Suitability and Security Processes Review Report to the President — February 2014 (PDF)
Source: Office of Management and Budget (via Federation of American Scientists)
In the Fall of 2013, the President directed the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to conduct a 120-day review of Federal employee suitability and contractor fitness determinations as well as security clearance procedures. This Review complimented related efforts of the Department of Defense (DoD) with respect to physical and personnel security and of the National Security Council (NSC) and OMB on access to and security of classified information.
This work was carried out by the Suitability and Security Clearance Performance Accountability Council (PAC). Chaired by OMB’s Deputy Director for Management, the PAC includes the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and the Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), in their respective roles as Security and Suitability Executive Agents (see Appendix A). The Senior Review Panel (hereafter referred to as the Panel), comprised of representatives from OMB, ODNI, OPM, DoD, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of Justice (DOJ), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO), as well as representatives from the NSC, drove an intensive interagency review to assess risks inherent in the current security, suitability, and credentialing processes and identify recommended solutions to safeguard our personnel and protect our nation’s most sensitive information.
The Review addressed suitability and security investigations for civilian, military, and contractor personnel. The same investigative and adjudicative standards apply to both Federal employees and contractors who receive clearances, as the work to protect our national security is no less critical when the work is performed by contractors. The Review also examined the work performed by each group in conducting these investigations. The current practice of utilizing contract investigators to collect relevant information is an appropriate practice and consistent with regulations, provided the necessary oversight, metrics, and controls are in place. Our recommendations include improvements in the areas of contractor oversight, accountability, and quality metrics going forward.
This Report presents a set of recommendations that establish new priorities for reform, while accelerating efforts already underway. These priorities include improving access to relevant information, especially state and local law enforcement records, and accelerating the shift to a continuous evaluation model across government; improving risk management approaches to reduce vulnerabilities in our current processes, including reduction of the total number of clearance holders and the backlog of periodic reinvestigations; and improving enterprise operations, to include strengthening oversight and government-wide implementation efforts while effectively managing limited resources. As part of its ongoing responsibilities, the PAC will be accountable for driving these changes and holding agencies accountable for implementing approved recommendations.
This Report first gives an overview of the current processes for conducting investigations and adjudications of all categories of personnel, and then summarizes the key conclusions and recommendations of the Panel, concluding with proposed next steps.
Economic Report of the President (2014)
Source: Council of Economic Advisors (via US GPO)
The Economic Report of the President is an annual report written by the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. It overviews the nation’s economic progress using text and extensive data appendices. The Economic Report of the President is transmitted to Congress no later than ten days after the submission of the Budget of the United States Government. Supplementary reports can be issued to the Congress which contain additional and/or revised recommendations.
The Economic Report of the President is issued by the Executive Office of the President and the Council of Economic Advisers. It includes:
Current and foreseeable trends and annual numerical goals concerning topics such as employment, production, real income and Federal budget outlays.
- Employment objectives for significant groups of the labor force.
- Annual numeric goals.
- A program for carrying out program objectives.
The Economic Report of the President is transmitted to Congress no later than ten days after the submission of the Budget of the United States Government. Supplementary reports can be issued to the Congress which contain additional and/or revised recommendations.
Liberty and Security in a Changing World: Report and Recommendations of The President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies
Today, President Obama met with his Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies — Richard Clarke, Michael Morell, Geoffrey Stone, Cass Sunstein and Peter Swire — to discuss the report they submitted to the President on December 13.
This meeting offered President Obama an opportunity to hear directly from the group’s members and discuss the thinking behind the 46 recommendations in their report. The President noted that the group’s report represented a consensus view, particularly significant given the broad scope of the members’ expertise in counterterrorism, intelligence, oversight, privacy and civil liberties. The President again stated his expectation that, in light of new technologies, the United States use its intelligence collection capabilities in a way that optimally protects our national security while supporting our foreign policy, respecting privacy and civil liberties, maintaining the public trust, and reducing the risk of unauthorized disclosure. The President expressed his personal appreciation to the group members for the extraordinary work that went into producing this comprehensive and high quality report, and outlined for the group how he intends to utilize their work.
Over the next several weeks, as we bring to a close the Administration’s overall review of signals intelligence, the President will work with his national security team to study the Review Group’s report, and to determine which recommendations we should implement. The President will also continue consulting with Congress as reform proposals are considered in each chamber.
New Report from the Council of Economic Advisers: The Recent Slowdown in Health Care Cost Growth and the Role of the Affordable Care Act
New Report from the Council of Economic Advisers: The Recent Slowdown in Health Care Cost Growth and the Role of the Affordable Care Act
Source: Council of Economic Advisers
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed against a backdrop of decades of rapid growth in health care spending, and one of the ACA’s key goals was to root out serious inefficiencies in the United States health care system that increase costs and compromise patients’ quality of care. Recent data show that health care spending and prices are growing at their slowest rates in decades; it appears that something has changed for the better. While this marked slowdown likely has many causes, and these causes are not yet fully understood, the available evidence suggests that the ACA is contributing to these trends, and, moreover, is helping to improve quality of care for patients. Today the White House Council of Economic Advisers released a new report analyzing recent trends in health costs, the forces driving those trends, and their likely economic benefits.
FACT SHEET: New Administration Proposal To Help Consumers Facing Cancellations
Source: White House
The law aimed to make Marketplace coverage optional for the less than 5 percent of Americans who have individual market coverage that they want to keep. Health plans that consumers had when the law was passed in 2010 are “grandfathered” in and do not have to adopt most of the new consumer protections. But, in order to provide consumers with better protections and coverage, health insurers in the individual and small group markets have to adopt consumer protections for any new plans purchased after 2010. In some instances, they are adopting those protections by canceling current policies and replacing them with new and sometimes more costly plans.
Many consumers receiving these cancellation letters will be able to find a better deal with financial assistance or better coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace, but we know a small slice of these consumers may not be eligible for a plan at a more affordable price. Last week President Obama directed his team to explore administrative actions that could be taken to help these consumers who are receiving cancellation letters.
To meet that commitment, today, HHS is using its administrative authority to:
- Allow insurers to renew their current policies for current enrollees without adopting the 2014 market rule changes. This will give consumers in the individual and small group markets the choice of staying in their plan or joining a new Marketplace plan next year. HHS will consider the impact of this transitional policy in assessing whether to extend it beyond 2014.
- Require insurers offering such renewals to ensure consumers are informed about their options. Specifically, insurers offering these renewals must inform all consumers who either already have or will receive cancellation letters about the protections their renewed plan will not include and how they can learn about the new options available to them through the Marketplaces which will offer better protections and possible financial assistance.
- To protect against the potential impacts this change will have on premiums, HHS will adjust the temporary risk corridor program which is designed to stabilize premiums as changes are implemented.
Impacts and Costs of the Government Shutdown
Source: Office of Management and Budget
As the President has said, the shutdown that occurred last month inflicted completely unnecessary damage on our economy and took a toll on families and businesses across the country. Today, OMB is releasing a report that catalogs the breadth and depth of this damage, and details the various impacts and costs of the October 2013 Federal government shutdown.
The report explains in detail the economic, budgetary, and programmatic costs of the shutdown. These costs include economic disruption, negative impacts on Federal programs and services that support American businesses and individuals, costs to the government, and impacts on the Federal workforce.
White House Report — The Financial Crisis: Five Years Later (PDF)
Source: White House
Five years ago this week, a financial crisis unlike any in generations rocked Wall Street, turning a recession that was already hammering Main Street into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. In the months before Presid ent Obama took office, the economy was shrinking at a rate of over 8 %. Businesses were shedding 800,000 jobs a month. Banks had stopped lending to families and small businesses. The iconic American auto industry – the heartbeat of American manufacturing – was on the brink of collapse. It was a crisis that would ultimately cost millions of Americans their jobs, their homes, and their savings – and the decades – long erosion of middle – class security was laid bare for all to see and feel.
President Obama ac ted quickly to rescue the auto industry, cut taxes for middle – class families, and keep teachers in the classrooms and first responders on our streets. He took on Wall Street, ending taxpayer bailouts, putting in place tough new rules on big banks, and est ablishing new consumer protections that cracked down on the worst practices of mortgage lenders and credit card companies. He changed a tax code too skewed in favor of the wealthiest Americans, locking in tax cuts for 98% of working Americans, and asked t hose at the top to pay a little more. And he took on a broken health care system and invested in new American technologies to reverse our addiction to foreign oil.
Five years later, America has fought our way back. Because of these tough choices, over t he past three and a half years, our businesses have created seven and a half million new jobs. Manufacturers are adding jobs for the first time since the mid – 1990′s. We generate more renewable energy than ever, and our exports are at all – time highs. Hea lth care costs are growing at the slowest rate in 50 years – and our deficit has fallen by 50% since the President took office.
Thanks to the grit and resilience of the American people, we’ve cleared away the rubble from the financial crisis and begun to lay a new foundation for stronger, more durable economic growth. And the last thing we can afford right now is a decision from a minority of Republicans in Congress to throw our economy back into crisis by refusing to pay our country’s bills or shutting down the government. As Presi dent Obama has said, we’re not where we need to be yet – the challenges facing the middle class weren’t created overnight, and they won’t be solved overnight. That’s why we need to keep building on that foundation by focusing on the cornerstones of a stro ng, secure middle – class life: a good job, a quality education, a home of your own, affordable health care when you need it, and a secure retirement. That’s the conviction that has driven President Obama since he first ran for this office – that our econom y works best when it grows not from the top – down, but from the middle – class out – that we are stronger when everyone who works hard has a chance to get ahead.
This report describes 15 key elements of the response to the financial crises – providing an ove rview of the state of the economy and the financial system, the actions the Administration took in conjunction with the Federal Reserve and other regulators , and where we are now…
Reauthorizing the Office of National Drug Control Policy: Issues for Consideration (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)
The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is located in the Executive Office of the President and has the responsibility for creating policies, priorities, and objectives for the federal Drug Control Program. This national program is aimed at reducing the use, manufacturing, and trafficking of illicit drugs and the reduction of drug-related crime and violence and of drug- related health consequences. The director of ONDCP has primary responsibilities of developing a comprehensive National Drug Control Strategy (Strategy) to direct the nation’s anti-drug efforts; developing a National Drug Control Budget (B udget) to implement the National Drug Control Strategy, including determining the adequacy of the drug control budgets submitted by contributing federal Drug Control Program agencies; and evaluating the effectiveness of the National Drug Control Strategy implementation by the various agencies contributing to the Drug Control Program. Authorization for ONDCP expired at the end of FY2010, but it has continued to receive appropriations. Congress, while continuously charged with ONDCP’s oversight, is now faced with its possible reauthorization.
In May 2009, Director R. Gil Kerlikowske called for an end to use of the term “war on drugs.” This is in part because while drug use was previously considered a law enforcement or criminal justice problem, it has transitioned to being viewed more as a public health problem. Indeed, the Obama Administration has indicated that a comprehensive strategy should include a range of prevention, treatment, and law enforcement elements. The 2013 National Drug Control Strategy outlines seven core areas—ranging from strengthening international partnerships to focusing on intervention and treatment efforts in health care—aimed at reducing both illicit drug use and its consequences. The overall goal is to achieve a 15% reduction in the rate of drug use and its consequences over a five-year period (2010-2015).
In creating the National Drug Control Strategy, ONDCP consults with the various federal Drug Control Program agencies. ONDCP then reviews th eir respective drug budgets and incorporates them into the National Drug Control Budget (Budget), which is submitted to Congress as part of the annual appropriations process. As requeste d by Congress in the ONDCP Reauthorization Act of 2006 (P.L. 109-469), the Budget was restructur ed in FY2012, incorporating the activities and budgets of 19 additional federal agencies/programs, to reflect a more complete range of federal drug control spending. The FY2013 Budget incorporated four additional federal agencies/programs, and the FY2014 Budget incorporates one additional federal program. In the FY2014 Budget, there are five priorities for which resources are requested across agencies: substance abuse prevention and substance abuse treatment (both of which are considered demand- reduction areas), and drug interdiction, domestic law enforcement, and international partnerships (the three of which are considered supply-reduc tion areas). The FY2014 Budget proposes to use 58.0% of the funds ($14.723 billion) for supply-side functions and 42.0% of the funds ($10.670 billion) for demand-side functions. Federal drug control activities were appropriated $24.536 billion for FY2013 (P.L. 113-6).
In considering ONDCP’s reauthorization, there are several issues on which policymakers may deliberate. Congress may consider whether to authorize specific supply-reduction or demand- reduction programs. Congress may also exercise oversight regarding ONDCP’s implementation of evidenced-based activities. Another issue that might be debated is whether the revised Budget structure captures the full scope of the nation’s anti-drug activities. Further, ONDCP has created a new Performance Reporting System (PRS) to eval uate annual progress toward each of the Drug Control Program’s strategic goals. Congress ma y exercise oversight regarding the new PRS.
Economic Benefits of Increasing Electric Grid Resilience to Weather Outages (PDF)
Source: Executive Office of the President
Severe weather is the leading cause of power outages in the United States. Between 2003 and 2012, an estimated 679 widespread power outages occurred due to severe weather. Power outages close schools, shut down businesses and impede emergency services, costing the economy billions of dollars and disrupting the lives of millions of Americans. The resilience of the U.S. electric grid is a key part of the nation’s defense against severe weather and remains an important focus of President Obama’s administration.
In June 2011, President Obama released A Policy Framework for the 21st Century Grid which set out a four-pillared strategy for modernizing the electric grid. The initiative directed billions of dollars toward investments in 21st century smart grid technologies focused at increasing the grid’s efficiency, reliability, and resilience, and making it less vulnerable to weather-related outages and reducing the time it takes to restore power after an outage occurs.
Grid resilience is increasingly important as climate change increasesthe frequency and intensity of severe weather. Greenhouse gas emissions are elevating air and water temperatures around the world. Scientific research predicts more severe hurricanes, winter storms, heat waves, floods and other extreme weather events being among the changes in climate induced by anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gasses.
This report estimates the annual cost of power outages caused by severe weather between 2003 and 2012 and describes various strategies for modernizing the grid and increasing grid resilience. Over this period, weather-related outages are estimated to have cost the U.S. economy an inflation-adjusted annual average of $18 billion to $33 billion. Annual costs fluctuate significantly and are greatest in the years of major storms such as Hurricane Ike in 2008, a year in which cost estimates range from $40 billion to $75 billion, and Superstorm Sandy in 2012, a year in which cost estimates range from $27 billion to $52 billion. A recent Congressional Research Service study estimates the inflation-adjusted cost of weather-related outages at $25 to $70 billion annually (Campbell 2012). The variation in estimates reflects different assumptions and data used in the estimation process. The costs of outages take various forms including lost output and wages, spoiled inventory, delayed production, inconvenience and damage to the electric grid. Continued investment in grid modernization and resilience will mitigate these costs over time – saving the economy billions of dollars and reducing the hardship experienced by millions of Americans when extreme weather strikes.
The Economic Benefits of Fixing Our Broken Immigration System
Source: Executive Office of the President
America has always been a nation of immigrants, and throughout the nation’s history, immigrants from around the globe have kept our workforce vibrant, our businesses on the cutting edge, and helped to build the greatest economic engine in the world. However, America’s immigration system is broken and has not kept pace with changing times. Today, too many employers game the system by hiring undocumented workers and there are 11 million people living and working in the shadow economy. Neither is good for the economy or the country.
The Senate’s Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744) represents the best chance that our country has had in years to modernize our immigration system. The President urges the House of Representatives to take action and move this bill or similar legislation forward, and stands willing to work with all parties to make sure that commonsense immigration reform becomes a reality as soon as possible.
During a meeting with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus this morning, the President released a White House report highlighting the extensive economic benefits of comprehensive immigration reform – and the significant costs to our country and our economy of failing to act at this critical time.
Economists, business leaders, and American workers agree – we must take advantage of this historic opportunity to fix our broken immigration system. At stake is a stronger, more dynamic, and faster growing economy that will foster job creation, higher productivity and wages, and entrepreneurship.
National Southwest Border Counternarcotics Strategy (PDF)
Source: Office of National Drug Control Policy (White House)
Substantially reduce the flow of illicit drugs, drug proceeds, and associated instruments of violence across the Southwest border
1. Enhance criminal intelligence and information sharing capabilities and processes associated with the Southwest border
2. Interdict drugs, drug proceeds, and associated instruments of violence at the ports of entry along the Southwest border
3. Interdict drugs, drug proceeds, and associated instruments of violence between the ports of entry along the Southwest border
4. Interdict drugs, drug proceeds, and associated illicit activities in the air and maritime domains along the Southwest border
5. Disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking organizations operating along the Southwest border by increasing investigations and prosecutions
6. Stem the flow of illicit proceeds across the Southwest border into Mexico
7. Stem the flow of illegal weapons across the Southwest border into Mexico
8. Develop strong and resilient communities that resist criminal activity and promote healthy lifestyles
9. Enhance U.S.–Mexico cooperation on joint counterdrug efforts
Presidential Memorandum — Transforming our Nation’s Electric Grid Through Improved Siting, Permitting, and Review
Our Nation’s electric transmission grid is the backbone of our economy, a key factor in future economic growth, and a critical component of our energy security. Countries that harness the power of clean, renewable energy will be best positioned to thrive in the global economy while protecting the environment and increasing prosperity. In order to ensure the growth of America’s clean energy economy and improve energy security, we must modernize and expand our electric transmission grid. Modernizing our grid will improve energy reliability and resiliency, allowing us to minimize power outages and manage cyber-security threats. By diversifying power sources and reducing congestion, a modernized grid will also create cost savings for consumers and spur economic growth.
Modernizing our Nation’s electric transmission grid requires improvements in how transmission lines are sited, permitted, and reviewed. As part of our efforts to improve the performance of Federal siting, permitting, and review processes for infrastructure development, my Administration created a Rapid Response Team for Transmission (RRTT), a collaborative effort involving nine different executive departments and agencies (agencies), which is working to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of transmission siting, permitting, and review, increase interagency coordination and transparency, and increase the predictability of the siting, permitting, and review processes. In furtherance of Executive Order 13604 of March 22, 2012 (Improving Performance of Federal Permitting and Review of Infrastructure Projects), this memorandum builds upon the work of the RRTT to improve the Federal siting, permitting, and review processes for transmission projects. Because a single project may cross multiple governmental jurisdictions over hundreds of miles, robust collaboration among Federal, State, local, and tribal governments must be a critical component of this effort.
Source: White House
A combination of American entrepreneurship and innovation, private investment, and smart policy has positioned the United States as the global leader in wireless broadband technologies. Expanding the availability of spectrum for innovative and flexible commercial uses, including for broadband services, will further promote our Nation’s economic development by providing citizens and businesses with greater speed and availability of coverage, encourage further development of cutting-edge wireless technologies, applications, and services, and help reduce usage charges for households and businesses. We must continue to make additional spectrum available as promptly as possible for the benefit of consumers and businesses. At the same time, we must ensure that Federal, State, local, tribal, and territorial governments are able to maintain mission critical capabilities that depend on spectrum today, as well as effectively and efficiently meet future requirements.
Source: White House (Council of Economic Advisors)
The Economic Report of the President is an annual report written by the Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers. An important vehicle for presenting the Administration’s domestic and international economic policies, it provides an overview of the nation’s economic progress with text and extensive data appendices.
FACT SHEET: President Obama Applauds Commitments to Raise Awareness and Increase Understanding of Mental Health at White House Conference
Source: White House
Today, at the National Conference on Mental Health, the President applauded the dozens of commitments made by organizations representing media, educators, health care providers, faith communities, and foundations to increase understanding and awareness of mental health.
The Obama Administration has taken a number of steps to raise awareness and improve care for Americans experiencing mental health issues, including expanding mental health coverage for millions of Americans through the Affordable Care Act, improving access to mental health services for veterans and supporting initiatives to help educators recognize and refer students who show signs of mental illness.
The National Conference on Mental Health is designed to increase understanding and awareness of mental health. As part of this effort, today the Administration is launching mentalhealth.gov, a new, consumer-friendly website with clear and concise tools to help with the basics of mental health, the signs of mental illness, how to talk about mental health, and how to get help. The website also includes a series of videos featuring celebrities and ordinary Americans whose lives have been touched by mental illness.
Source: White House
The Obama Administration’s inaugural National Drug Control Strategy, published in 2010, charted a new course in our efforts to reduce illicit drug use and its consequences in the United States—an approach that rejects the false choice between an enforcement-centric “war on drugs” and drug legalization. Science has shown that drug addiction is not a moral failing but rather a disease of the brain that can be prevented and treated. Informed by this basic understanding, the 2010, 2011 and 2012 Strategies established and promoted a balance of evidence-based public health and safety initiatives focusing on key areas such as substance abuse prevention, treatment, and recovery.
The 2013 National Drug Control Strategy, released on April 24, builds on the foundation laid down by the Administration’s previous three Strategies and serves as the Nation’s blueprint for reducing drug use and its consequences. Continuing our collaborative, balanced, and science-based approach, the new Strategy provides a review of the progress we have made over the past four years. It also looks ahead to our continuing efforts to reform, rebalance, and renew our national drug control policy to address the public health and safety challenges of the 21st century.
New GAO Reports and Testimony
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Office of National Drug Control Policy: Office Could Better Identify Opportunities to Increase Program Coordination. GAO-13-333, March 26.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/653355.pdf
2. Air Force Electronic Systems Center: Reorganization Resulted in Workforce Reassignments at Hanscom Air Force Base, but Other Possible Effects Are Not Yet Known. GAO-13-366, April 25.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/654163.pdf
3. Explosive Ordnance Disposal: DOD Needs Better Resource Planning and Joint Guidance to Manage the Capability. GAO-13-385, April 25.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/654171.pdf
4. Internal Revenue Service: 2013 Tax Filing Season Performance to Date and Budget Data. GAO-13-541R, April 15.
1. Federal Real Property: Excess and Underutilized Property Is an Ongoing Challenge, by David Wise, director, physical infrastructure, before the Subcommittee on Government Operations, House committee on Oversight and Government Reform. GAO-13-573T, April 25.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/654160.pdf
Source: White House
The Obama Administration is committed to the proposition that citizens deserve easy access to the results of scientific research their tax dollars have paid for. That’s why, in a policy memorandum released today, OSTP Director John Holdren has directed Federal agencies with more than $100M in R&D expenditures to develop plans to make the published results of federally funded research freely available to the public within one year of publication and requiring researchers to better account for and manage the digital data resulting from federally funded scientific research. OSTP has been looking into this issue for some time, soliciting broad public input on multiple occasions and convening an interagency working group to develop a policy. The final policy reflects substantial inputs from scientists and scientific organizations, publishers, members of Congress, and other members of the public—over 65 thousand of whom recently signed a We the People petition asking for expanded public access to the results of taxpayer-funded research.
Source: White House/U.S. Department of Education
College Scorecards in the U.S. Department of Education’s College Affordability and Transparency Center make it easier for you to search for a college that is a good fit for you. You can use the College Scorecard to find out more about a college’s affordability and value so you can make more informed decisions about which college to attend.
To start, enter the name of a college of interest to you or select factors that are important in your college search. You can find scorecards for colleges based on factors such as programs or majors offered, location, and enrollment size.